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Chapter 15

Samson Defeats the Philistines. After some time, in the season of the wheat harvest, Samson visited his wife, bringing a young goat. But when he said, “Let me go into my wife’s room,” her father would not let him go in. He said, “I thought you hated her, so I gave her to your best man. Her younger sister is better; you may have her instead.” Samson said to him, “This time I am guiltless if I harm the Philistines.” So Samson went and caught three hundred jackals, and turning them tail to tail, he took some torches and tied one between each pair of tails. He then kindled the torches and set the jackals loose in the standing grain of the Philistines, thus burning both the shocks and standing grain, the vineyards and olive groves.

(A)When the Philistines asked, “Who has done this?” they were told, “Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because his wife was taken and given to his best man.” So the Philistines went up and destroyed her and her family by fire.(B) Samson said to them, “If this is how you act, I will not stop until I have taken revenge on you.” And he struck them hip and thigh—a great slaughter. Then he went down and stayed in a cleft of the crag of Etam.

The Philistines went up and encamped in Judah, deploying themselves against Lehi.(C) 10 When the men of Judah asked, “Why have you come up against us?” they answered, “To take Samson prisoner; to do to him as he has done to us.” 11 Three thousand men of Judah went down to the cleft of the crag of Etam and said to Samson, “Do you not know that the Philistines are our rulers? Why, then, have you done this to us?” He answered them, “As they have done to me, so have I done to them.” 12 They said to him, “We have come down to bind you and deliver you to the Philistines.” Samson said to them, “Swear to me that you will not attack me yourselves.” 13 “No,” they replied, “we will only bind you and hand you over to them. We will certainly not kill you.” So they bound him with two new ropes and brought him up from the crag. 14 When he reached Lehi, and the Philistines came shouting to meet him,(D) the spirit of the Lord rushed upon him: the ropes around his arms became like flax that is consumed by fire, and his bonds melted away from his hands. 15 Coming upon the fresh jawbone of an ass, he reached out, grasped it, and with it killed a thousand men.(E) 16 Then Samson said,

“With the jawbone of an ass
    I have piled them in a heap;
With the jawbone of an ass
    I have slain a thousand men.”

17 As he finished speaking he threw the jawbone from him; and so that place was named Ramath-lehi.[a] 18 Being very thirsty, he cried to the Lord and said, “You have put this great victory into the hand of your servant. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” 19 Then God split the cavity in Lehi, and water issued from it, and Samson drank till his spirit returned and he revived. Hence it is called En-hakkore[b] in Lehi to this day.

20 Samson judged Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines.(F)


  1. 15:17 Ramath-lehi: “Jawbone Height”; in Hebrew lehi means “jawbone.”
  2. 15:19 En-hakkore: understood as “the spring of the crier,” an allusion to Samson’s cry in v. 18. The story is used to explain the name of a well-known spring in Lehi. The Hebrew also means “Partridge Spring.”